If you’re looking for a wedding photographer who’s all about capturing real life, real smiles, real laughs and real love, let us introduce you to the amazing Laura Hopper of Girl and the Wolf Photography. Laura describes herself as warm and “a bit dorky”, and a pro at getting her couples to relax and have fun in front of the camera. Her style is bright and happy, relaxed and candid – and she’s determined to have all those beautiful moments of your special day shine through your wedding photography. Below, we chat to Laura about how she connects with couples and why it’s so important to do so, all the behind-the-scenes magic that’s involved in bringing you the most incredible images, and what about her photography style makes her work so loved by her couples.
Hi Laura! Where are you based?
I’m located in beautiful, warm, sunny Brisbane.
You have a fun business name – who is the wolf in your life?
The wolf is my dog Max. He’s a rescue Kelpie x Border Collie and he is my little location-scouting buddy and bestest boy. I now have a Poodle as well who looks sort of like a llama but I don’t think I can change my business name to “Girl, the Wolf and the Llama” this late in the game!
How long have you been shooting weddings?
Four years and hopefully plenty more ahead!
Do you travel for weddings?
I regularly travel between the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and Toowoomba but definitely would travel outside of those areas!
How would you describe your photography style?
My work is bright, vibrant and happy. When I talk to my couples I describe my work as curated-candid. I capture most things as they unfold during the day, however I will jump in and make little suggestions to make things slightly better. I might say, “If you could just do this over here in front of this pretty window” but then I’ll step back and just capture it as it happens.
How do you use your personality to relax your couples and take great shots? How important is it to make a connection with them?
I am such a hype girl. During portraits you can definitely hear me calling, “OMG you two are so cute!”. I am a bit of a dork so I play that up and encourage my couples to laugh at me and that way they’re not thinking about how awkward having their photos can feel but rather how much fun they’re having.
What makes your photographs stand out?
My colours are close to true life (which is especially important for skin tones) and I focus on capturing real emotions (plenty of giggles) so my photos look and feel authentic.
How does the clear light in Queensland and your surroundings influence your work?
I’m always looking for good locations with beautiful pockets of light in the shade. It can be very hot and very bright for most of the year here so I’m looking to soften that super harsh light to ensure it’s more flattering for my clients. But I’ve also gotten really comfortable putting that beautiful golden hour light right behind my couples and creating really beautiful, soft, creamy images with a bunch of light.
What have been some the biggest changes in weddings since you started out as a wedding photographer?
When weddings started back up after all the Covid lockdowns, I noticed more and more that guests were so excited to finally see other people in-person that at most weddings the guests were sitting and chatting the whole reception. It was lovely to see how excited everyone was to see each other again after so long, but the dance floors were a bit empty. However, in the second half of 2022 I had some of the best dance floor photos of my career and I’m loving that shift back to party time!
I’ve also noticed a lot of couples are deciding on a short engagement and are planning their weddings in less than six months, which I think is so cool! They know what they want to do and they just jump in and get it done! With so many new venues popping up all the time and lots of vendors in the area it is totally possible to pull together a gorgeous wedding with great vendors in a short turnaround time.
What kind of trends have you noticed in the weddings you’ve shot recently?
People bringing their dogs to the ceremony and couple photos and I LOVE it. So many great companies out there that will bring your doggies along and make them feel comfortable and then look after them while you party away is such an awesome service. And then I also get puppy cuddles, so it’s a win-win for me!
What about a wedding day? How do you prepare?
I get to know my couples before the big day so I can go in knowing what vibe they’re going for. I make sure to research the venue and surrounding areas and will do a location scout in-person if I can so that I have a plan A, B and C in mind for photos depending on weather and timing. Wedding days often don’t go exactly to plan (oh do I have some stories!) so it’s good to be able to pivot at the last minute based on what is going on in the moment.
And on a personal level, I make sure to drink lots of water and to have lollies and chocolates in my photography bag for both myself and the wedding party when we’re out doing portraits.
What’s your approach to a wedding, starting from when you first meet the couple?
Weddings are fun! I approach it as if it’s going to be a fun day with a great group of people. I try and make a good connection with my couples because I’m going to be all up in their business all day. They need to feel comfortable with me. I do a no-obligation video chat so they can see if they vibe with me and we go from there. I try and make my couples feel like I’m a fun friend who is totally hyped for their big day. Which I totally am! I let them know I can be as involved as they want me to be. I love hearing all the details as it helps me prepare better. I do lots of research on the location or venue, and go through the timeline well in advance so I can have a solid plan for the day. As the day approaches I check in to see how their planning is going and whether they need any help. Even just to chat with someone who understands the stresses of planning a wedding.
The morning of the wedding I send a cute little message telling them I’m on my way and that I can’t wait to share the day with them. I rock up with my signature bubbly personality and hype them up all day. I’m running around all day, capturing all the little moments and then I get up on that dance floor with guests and shake my booty. At the end of the night I hug all my new friends, make my way home and collapse in to bed. The next day I’m up early doing their little sneak peeks because I want those first photos they post to be the ones I took!
Do you offer engagement sessions? If you do, why do you recommend them?
I do! I use engagement sessions to get to know how my couples naturally fold in to each other and what kind of vibe will work to make them feel comfortable. I also feel like if we do an engagement session before the big day, by the time we get to the portrait section of the day the couple is already comfortable and we can get straight in to the good stuff.
What’s your favourite style of wedding to photograph?
I love all styles of weddings. From the backyard bashes to the weddings in a tipi on a farm to the ones on the beach with sand between my toes. But regardless of style, in my opinion the best weddings are the ones where the couple focus on having a great time with their best people. Those are the weddings where the laughs are plenty, hearts are warm and the dance floor is full. Pinterest is full of so many trends and ideas and it can be super easy to fall in to a trap of thinking that you need to do all the things to make your wedding beautiful, but I tell my couples that the whole point of the day is to marry your best friend, surrounded by your favourite people. You can forget your flowers in your hotel, rip your dress, forget the confetti (I’ve even had a bride fracture her foot on the morning of the wedding) but as long as you get married and spend that day with your loved ones, then everything went perfectly!
You pour so many hours of work into a wedding! What’s some of the behind the scenes stuff that couples might not realise you do, especially after the wedding?
Editing, editing and more editing! I am a serial over-shooter so I have a LOT of content to go through after a wedding to ensure I deliver a beautiful gallery. I’m also updating my socials, responding to inquiries, doing my accounting, trying to remember to update my website, and watching or attending photography educational workshops, on top of the millions of other things small business owners do. And around all this I’m out of the house photographing other weddings and I also photograph families and newborns. In my past working life I was in administration at a university, so I am pretty good at having multiple things on the go at the same time.
What are your main interests outside of work?
I spent a lot of time with my dogs. I take them to the beach and on other fun adventures. It keeps them happy and helps me to get away from my screen which I need as I tend to be a bit of a workaholic.
Last year I started a flower garden. It’s only a small space but I love seeing them all in bloom and love seeing the bees congregate out there. It’s just outside the window of my office so I can see it all day. I also just planted a herb garden so looking forward to that taking off.
I’m a self confessed geek and love to play computer and Nintendo games (over 200 hours finishing off Breath of the Wild #IYKYK). And I’m going to use my downtime over January to dust off my sewing machine and make some cute dresses which I unfortunately didn’t have time for this year, as I had a lot of my 2020 and 2021 weddings scheduled to this year.
How do they help you keep your photography fresh?
I take lots of photos of the dogs which is honestly a lot harder than it sounds (it was way easier when I only had one!) so they keep me on my toes. I’m looking forward to using my little flower garden for some cute photos of them.
Sewing keeps me creative but in a different way to my photography so I’m keen to get back in to that. I try hard to allocate down time to switch off a little so I can come back with a full cup and usually a lot more inspired to make beautiful work.
How do you make sure there is a balance between your work and family life?
I have to admit that I struggled a bit creating that balance this year but working from home does mean I can be flexible with when I work. I allocate time in my calendar for family time and friend time and downtime, otherwise I tend to just work all the time. I guess that’s not so bad because it means I love what I do!
Thanks Laura for giving us a behind the scenes look of all the amazing work that goes into making Girl and the Wolf Photography what it is. You sound the best hype girl ever and an asset in any vendor dream team! To find out more about Girl and the Wolf Photography, head to Laura’s website or check out Girl and the Wolf Photography on the Polka Dot Directory.